Híŋhaŋni wašté

by caitlynpickens

Our day started off with a greeting from an elder volunteer, Ben, as he taught us to say “Good morning” in Lakota: Híŋhaŋni wašté.

Around 8:45, the kids all headed to the classroom and found seats. At first, they were very quiet and reserved, reluctant to introduce themselves to us. In total, we had fourteen 7th and 8th graders in the class, three of whom were pulled out of the room periodically for special education. The class was made up of approximately two-thirds females.

Once we met the students, we administered a pre-survey. These results can be compared to a similar post-survey which the student will complete at the end of the two week workshop.

[…include survey…]

After the kids finished the survey, we introduced the concept of storytelling as an essential part of both animation and video game design. We discussed some of their favorite movies and games, and how they might have been created. Getting the kids to talk required some prompting from their year-round teachers Lisa and Chanda. We used this time as an opportunity to discuss story arc, as well as things like setting, plot, characters, and morals.

After discussing the abstract concept of storytelling, we moved into studying specific stories. We prepared an Iktomi story called Iktomi and the Fawns. Taking turns as a class, the students the short story aloud. We then distributed colored pencils, and they each highlighted important components of the story [characters in blue, setting in green, conversation and thoughts in red, and actions in yellow]. This process forced the students to read through the story closely and understand it chronologically.

[…include annotated Iktomi and the Fawn…]

Next we had them begin to storyboard the Iktomi story. They were allowed to break up the scenes from the story however they liked, but we found that some guideline suggestions helped to keep from overwhelming some of the younger students. About half of the class really enjoyed the sketching, while the other half felt put-upon and even stressed by the task. Here are some interesting and/or beautiful drawings we got in response:

[…include storyboards…]

After finishing the storyboards, we split the kids up into small groups and took them outside to photograph their stories using fancy cameras from LFC. In groups of four, the students took turns being actors and photographers outside of the school. This proved to be the most popular part of the day’s lesson.

When we finished taking photographs, Anica and I loaded in the kids’ pictures to their computers while Tracy gave a short lesson on a program called Comic Life. A trial version can be downloaded here: http://plasq.com/products/comiclife/win. The students used their pictures to make a comic, the first of their digital storytelling experiences. We ran short on time toward the end of the day, and we didn’t get to let the students make their comics as advanced as we hoped.

Here is a quick mock-up example in comic life that I put together using my group’s interpretation of Iktomi and the Fawn:

***any files not included in this post that are supposed to be will be added once we get the scanner up and running. :]